WASHINGTON DC – Apropos of nothing, I got an e-mail this week that included an infographic about food trucks and the potential liability issues that come with owning one. (You can see the graphic after the jump.) The illustration was put together by Western World Insurance Group, which handles so-called “excess and surplus lines” policies.
It means Western World insures things that the big companies won’t.
Though Western World doesn’t currently insure any food trucks, the company thought it might be a public service — or a nice PR move — to show people all the risks that food truck owners try to cover with their insurance. It would appear that trucks need every form of insurance short of a dog-bite policy.
It got me wondering about the coverage that trucks do have to carry — and how difficult policies may be to obtain. I called Kristi Whitfield, co-owner of Curbside Cupcakes, who told me how much the insurance industry has adapted in the three years since modern food trucks appeared on the D.C. scene.
“When we first started,” Whitfield says about her truck that launched in November 2009, “it was difficult finding any company to insure us.”
Back then, Whitfield says she had to approach her current insurance carrier, State Farm, about covering her unique business, which is part commercial vehicle and part restaurant.
The insurance giant was at something of a loss, she recalls. The request “was such a square peg in a round hole,” Whitfield says. State Farm did cobble together a package of policies that seemed to do the job, but Whitfield was always concerned that she “was not really properly covered.”
Whitfield has since changed carriers to Erie Insurance, which is the go-to company for a number of trucks in the Washington market. She now has a package of policies that includes coverage for the truck, workers’ comp and business liability, Whitfield says. She pays about $1,000 a month for it, but expects the costs to drop as the food truck movement continues to grow.
Like Whitfield, Josh Saltzman — co-founder of the PORC barbecue truck and its recent brick-and-mortar offshoot, the Kangaroo Boxing Club — had a hard time securing insurance until he learned about Erie. The PORC truck, he says, carries $3 million in liability insurance, which costs the owners a lot. He won’t divulge the monthly premium, but says it’s about “70 percent for what I pay for